Plant a Tree Worth Sitting Under

Mark Arnold
Plant a Tree Worth Sitting Under

Regularly scheduled long-term planning is the best path to success for your credit union or community bank. Not only that – it’s essential to the future success of your community. As Warren Buffet said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Now’s the time to plant the seed. Or if you’ve already planted the seed, to water it and make sure it gets enough sunlight.

Now’s the time to make long-term planning part of your short-term agenda.

Form the Habit

Working on your strategic plans every week is a habit. And like any other good habit, it’s hard to form. Eating more vegetables, going to the gym, focusing on strategy – it all takes discipline. It all takes a system.

Habit expert James Clear says as much: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” But most organizations aren’t forming systems - 59% of companies agree they struggle to implement the strategies they create.

How does your credit union or community bank do it differently?

Create a goal achievement system. Spend time on the way to work thinking about the action steps you need to reach your goals. Turn your strategy into a tactical action plan (a concrete list of assignments and deadlines).

Always remember – goals are great, but they’re nothing without systems.

Stretch Yourself (Without Breaking Yourself)

Your credit union or community bank’s planning must follow the rubber band rule. What does that mean?

It means planning needs to stretch you without breaking you.

It’s not a bad thing to “make time” in your day to work on a goal. If it was too easy, you wouldn’t need to allocate any time to the goal. But by the same token, you still have a lot to do around your organization. Working on impossible burdens leaves you exhausted, and you might not achieve the goal anyway.

According to Harvard Business Review, this is incredibly demoralizing and can lead to hopelessness about the future or blaming your environment. For example, you say you couldn’t grow because the industry changed. But the real reason for missed growth was missed goals.

Don’t stretch yourself to the breaking point. Look at the prior year and make a realistic prediction about where you’ll be next year. And like any good rubber band, you’ll bounce back better than ever after a healthy stretch.

Don’t Wait to Plan

Your credit union or community bank can’t put off regular planning habits, but it also can’t delay scheduling those important yearly goal-setting sessions. Without fantastic yearly goals, you can’t make those effective week-to-week deadlines.

So, put a strategic planning session on your calendar now. Don’t let your long-term play second fiddle to your short-term. Give your future staff and members plenty of shade because you planted the tree.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO